Research Assistants

research Assistants


Zakiyah Brannen-Buxton


Major: Plant Science Biotechnology with a minor in Chemistry

Interests: Bio-remediation biotechnology and microbiology, working with corporations that remove hazardous/poisonous materials from natural environments, engineering useful resources from hazardous waste, establish a fortified research career, study Osteopathic Medicine

About Me: Zakiyah Brannen-Buxton, a Plant Science Biotechnology major at Fort Valley State University, has attended and accepted honor awards at the Agri-Demic Honor Banquet, worked on laboratory and demonstration farms, and is first soprano in FVSU’s concert choir. She is currently working on a research project under Dr. Felicia Jefferson entitled “Regulation of neuroendocrine hormones on sleep deprivation in male and female neonatal and aged Drosophila melanogaster.” She aspires to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, engineer a product that can leach impurities and pollutants from the ground in great quantities while leaving healthy bi products of the ecological system in place, and aspires to own a corporation that makes contracts with urban cities and countries to leach pollution from the natural environment. Upon retiring, Zakiyah wants to work in preventative medical care involving production of her own medicines via her own biotechnological and medical background upon retiring.


Amber Davenport


Major: Biology, Junior

Interests: To become a pediatrician

About Me: Since she was in elementary school, Amber has always wanted to be a doctor and because she loves children, she wanted to be a pediatrician. As she got older, her interests narrowed and she now aspires to be a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in knees. In high school, Amber participated in several clubs and organizations including Beta Club, Science Club, Spanish Club, and Future Business Leaders of America. She continues to be involved at FVSU in the Blue Note Singers Ensemble and the National Society of Black Engineers, where she serves as the Parliamentarian. She is currently conducting research under the tutelage of Dr. Felicia Jefferson. She is researching the neurotoxic effects of sleep deprivation on the brain and comparing differences between male and female, and neonatal and aged drosophila. She thoroughly enjoys doing research and plans to obtain a Ph.D. and then matriculate on to medical school.



Cassandra Gary-Smith


Major: Biology (Concentration Forensic Science), Junior

Interests: To become a Medical Technologist

About Me: Cassandra Gary-Smith is a junior here at Fort Valley State University, majoring in Biology and has displayed great academic improvements during her tenure here. As a graduate of Peach County High School, she was active in softball and participated in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program where she graduated number 26 out of 250 students. Cassandra is currently serving in the United States Air Force Reserve as a Medical Laboratory Technician, where she currently holds a Certification from the ASCP (American Society of Clinical Pathology). Cassandra has volunteered with Meals on Wheels, where she delivered lunch to numerous military veterans, assisted in an autopsy, and has done job shadowing with a Pathologist. Cassandra plans to become a certified Medical Technologist and foresees herself advancing in her career and becoming a Lab Director in the next ten years.



Tracie Nicole Holmes


Major: Biology, Senior

Interests: To become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

About Me: Traci Holmes, age 23, is senior Biology major at Fort Valley State University. She grew up in Warner Robins, Georgia where she attended Northside High School. She was a football and basketball cheerleader, and was also in the BETA club. Traci has always had a love for science, and knew she wanted to pursue a career in this field. She attended Valdosta State University before transferring to Fort Valley State. She wanted to experience college at a HBCU. Although Traci is fairly new to Fort Valley State University’s campus, she looks forward to joining various groups, such as the Science club, and attending events around the school before graduation. She looks forward for her upcoming research project and being able to present at a conference of her choice. Traci wants to continue her education to become a nurse and become a Pediatrics Family Nurse Practitioner.



Stephanie Johnson


Major: Senior Biology Major

Interests: Research and studies in fields concerning obstetrics/gynecology and neonatal care.

About Me: Stephanie Johnson is a senior Biology major at Fort Valley State University. Her current research is entitled “Spatial Statistical Analysis of the Effects of Artificial Light at Night in Select Rural and Suburban Wildlife.” Stephanie aspires to be a Certified Nurse Midwife in the future.



Myron Preston


Major: majoring in Biology and minoring in Nuclear Engineering, Entering Senior year


About Me: Myron Preston is a Biology major at Fort Valley State University and is president of Fort Valley State University’s chapter of NSBE. His current research is entitled “The effects of Electromagnetic and Radiofrequency radiation from cell phone towers on migratory bird pathways.” Now entering into his senior year, Myron aspires to obtain a Master and PhD in the field of Medical Physics. I plan on researching the applications of physics to medicine from the study of biomolecular structure to microscopy and nanomedicine.


Kebriana Ross


Major: Biology, Junior

Interests: To become a successful Pharmacist while also conducting basic research and continuing mentoring

About Me: Kebriana Ross is a currently a junior at Fort Valley State University. She graduated from Northside High School (NHS) in May of 2013. In high school, she was a member of the Blue Wind Marching Band, Future Farmers of America (FFA), and Thespian Troupe 2892. Kebriana is a very involved, motivated, talented, and goal-oriented student. She also graduated from Georgia Military College (GMC) in Warner Robins, Georgia, where she earned AS degrees in Biology and General Studies. Kebriana always kept her academics acceptable and was actively involved in extra-curricular activities. Since beginning at Fort Valley State University (FVSU), she has become a member of Joseph Atkins Players (JAP), a student organized drama club, which is designed as a creative and supportive environment for students to work on shows, plays, and musicals or to collaborate with other artists to develop their skills. She is also a member of Campus Activities Board (CAB), a student programming board, who plan a wide assortment of activities designed to keep students engaged and entertained while they matriculate at FVSU. Additionally, she has volunteered in local communities from helping in the animal shelter to tutoring students in math and science. Kebriana has recently began conducting research under Dr. Felicia Jefferson. Her research topic is the “The Neuroendocrinological Effects of Sleep Deprivation” specifically focusing on the metabolic effects linked to neuroendocrinology, the hormones, and health consequences associated with sleep deprivation in the fruit fly. She is interested in mentoring, networking, photography, socializing, enjoying music, participating in animal care, traveling and engaging in different activities during her free time. While attending the Fort Valley State University, she aspires to successfully further her education, have active involvement, and ultimately make a powerful difference.



Gabrielle van Genderen


Major: Plant Science with a concentration in Biotechnology, Junior

Interests: Traveling

About Me: Gabrielle van Genderen is a Plant Science Major at Fort Valley State University. She is an Honors student and secretary of FVSU’s Beta Kappa Chi (BKX) Scientific Honors Society. Her current research topic is “Neurotoxicity of Sleep Deprivation Associated Cognitive Decline.” Gabrielle aspires to be an Orthodontist.